Obama: Marijuana No Worse Than Alcohol

Here’s a bit of political contradiction.  A recent article in the Washington Post contained the comments of James L. Capra on Washington and Colorado’s initiatives to decriminalize marijuana for recreational use.  Capra is the Chief of Operations for the Drug Enforcement Agency and he’s not particularly happy about the legalization movement:

The chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration on Wednesday called the legalization of marijuana at the state level “reckless and irresponsible,” warning that the movement to decriminalize the sale of pot in the United States will have severe consequences.

“It scares us,” James L. Capra said, responding to a question from a senator during a hearing focused on drug cultivation in Afghanistan. “Every part of the world where this has been tried, it has failed time and time again.”

Contrast that to this report in CNN on recent comments made by President Obama:

Speaking to New Yorker editor David Remnick, Obama said he still viewed pot smoking negatively – but that on the whole, the drug wasn’t the social ill that it’s been viewed as in the past.

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” Obama told the weekly magazine.

The president said pot was actually less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.”

“It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy,” he said.

I have to believe that Capra might be a bit discouraged by the President’s comments.  Twenty years ago President Clinton had to make the absurd “I didn’t inhale” statement.  How far we’ve come.

For those who may be interested, the CRS has several reports on issues relating to the marijuana legalization movement:

State Marijuana Legalization Initiatives:  Implications for Federal Law Enforcement (Order Code R43164, September 9, 2013)

State Legalization of Recreational Marijuana:  Selected Legal Issues (Order Code R43034, April 5, 2013)

Medical Marijuana:  The Supremacy Clause, Federalism, and the Interplay Between State and Federal Laws (Order Code R42398, November 9, 2012)

Medical Marijuana:  Review and Analysis of Federal and State Policies (Order Code RL33211, April 2, 2010)

I can understand the desire to legalize and tax.  Some states might be able to partially dig themselves out of their pension problems if they tax legal product.  – Mark

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